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Meadow Pointe residents launch petition against Pasco school rezoning plan



Residents of the Meadow Pointe subdivision of Wesley Chapel are sounding stunned that their neighborhood might be rezoned outside the attendance boundaries of the middle and high school closest to their homes.

They have begun an online petition demanding their children remain in their neighborhood school, while also blitzing Pasco school district officials with emails asking for reconsideration. Some of the correspondents have raised concerns regarding transportation and commuting, while others have complained about growth management and potential loss of home value.

A handful have suggested that the district stacked the deck against Meadow Pointe by giving preferential treatment to the Seven Oaks subdivision, the other large community that contributes to severe crowding at Wiregrass Ranch High and John Long Middle. That crowding prompted the construction of a new school (GGG) on Old Pasco Road, which in turn led to attendance zone revisions.

"Originally, 7 Oaks was going to be zoned for GGG. Why was this changed after Meeting #2? Could it be that 7 Oaks had major representation at the boundary meetings and Meadow Point 3&4 had none???" one parent wrote to the superintendent and district planning department. "If this isn't cronyism, I don't know what it is."

Here's how things shook out at the table.

The principal from each involved school -- Wiregrass Ranch, John Long, Wesley Chapel High, Weightman Middle, Sunlake High and Rushe Middle -- appointed two parents to the committee. Among them, two parents live in Seven Oaks, according to the district. One lives in Lexington Oaks, another in Country Walk. None live in Meadow Pointe.

A Seven Oaks community group offered the committee a zoning proposal, which all members received. It did not generate any discussion at the meetings.

At one of the first two meetings, though, one of the Seven Oaks residents on the committee asked whether the group should consider moving that subdivision to the GGG zone. That idea had some muted support, to start. However, as the committee began looking at the need to alleviate anticipated crowding at Sunlake and Rushe, the proposals changed.

Sunlake and Rushe, on State Road 54 west of US 41, have limited room for more portables, and they sit in the county's other fast growing population hub. The county has no immediate plan to build any reliever middle or high schools in the area.

The district does, however, intend to build a new middle school on the GGG site within three to five years.

Given that scenario, committee members decided to take several hundred students from Sunlake and Rushe into GGG. If it were to move Seven Oaks, too, members said GGG would have become too crowded itself. Once the new middle school opens there, creating more seats, then Seven Oaks would be first in line for a rezoning, they said.

With Seven Oaks essentially off the table for the time being, the committee turned to the other major attendance generator for Wiregrass and John Long -- Meadow Pointe. Members acknowledged the longer drive to Wesley Chapel and Weightman would create a stir, but suggested it was the trade-off for easing crowding at a school that has run on double sessions for two years.

Meadow Pointe parents have called for a different solution, and plan to become a presence at upcoming meetings to make their views heard.

The committee plans to meet once more after a Nov. 29 parent session, to discuss whether it wants to change its proposal.

The School Board, which will make the final decision, will have two public hearings before its vote. Board members in the past have praised the process, and have been reluctant to override the committee's recommendation.

[Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2016 1:06pm]


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